I don’t know if Paul could have given a stronger charge to Timothy than he does here.
Paul foresaw a time when people would no longer put up with sound doctrine. Rather, they would simply gather to themselves teachers who would say whatever they want to hear. He foresaw a time when people would stop listening to truth, and turn aside to myths. (3-4)
Sound familiar? We’re here.
And it would be so easy for us as teachers and as laypeople to simply go with the flow. To compromise Christ’s teaching.
But Paul tells us what he told Timothy.
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. (1-2)
As I said, a strong charge. He gives us this charge, reminding us that even now we stand in the presence of God and of Christ who will judge us. He charges us in view of the fact that Jesus will come back someday and set up his kingdom. What is this charge?
Preach the Word. Not just the parts people like to hear. All of it, giving the full counsel of God, even if it’s unpleasant to hear.
He says, “be prepared in season and out of season.” Essentially what he’s saying is, “Preach the Word whether it is convenient or inconvenient.
It’s not always convenient to preach the Word. Sometimes we’re in a hurry to do other things. We have our schedules; we have our plans. But God brings someone into our path that needs to hear what He has to say.
Sometimes it’s not “convenient” because we know what we say will agitate the other person and upset them. But Paul says, “You stand before God and before Christ. He will come back, he will set up his kingdom, and when he does, he will judge you and them. So whether it’s convenient or not, preach the Word.
Correct them. When they have a false view of the truth or of what’s right and wrong, correct their way of thinking.
Rebuke them. If they fall into sin or are teetering on the brink, warn them of the consequences that they might repent.
Encourage them. When they feel like giving up because of hardship, encourage them to keep their eyes on Jesus and not give up.
And in the face of a world that rejects truth and persecutes those who preach it, Paul tells us,
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (5)
Though false teachers abound, though we may face trials, don’t panic. Endure what hardship you go through, boldly share the good news of Jesus Christ, and fulfill the ministry God has given you, namely to touch the lives God has put in your life.
Finally Paul tells us, “It’s up to you now. My life’s work is finished. I have fought the good fight for God. I have finished the race he has given me. And I have not compromised the faith I preach through everything I’ve been through. Now I await my reward, the crown of righteousness that Christ will award to me on the day of judgment.” (5-8)
But then he adds, “That crown is not only for me. But it is for all who have longed for his appearing.” (8b)
How about you? Are you longing for his appearing? Are you truly praying, “Your kingdom come?”
How you finish this race depends on how you answer that question.
Where is your heart?